Over at The American Interest, Ricochet Member Tristan Abbey has a fascinating interview up with Kurt Volker, former U.S. ambassador to NATO under George W. Bush. As Europeans and American leftists such as Bill Maher heap scorn upon the concept of American exceptionalism, Volker's exposition of those things that make America truly exceptional is a welcome contrast.
“The U.S. was founded on a set of ideas, not on geography and not on ethnicity, but a set of ideas about the way people organize themselves and form governments”, he said, channeling his inner professor. The European states are organized in a similar political structure today, but it was not always so. “They’re based on geography and ethnicity, language, blood and soil. They have a hard time thinking otherwise, whereas I think we genuinely see ourselves as different in terms of what we are as a country.”
“Now, that doesn’t mean that we don’t make mistakes or get overextended”, he cautioned, “and I think you could argue that especially in the last couple decades we’ve just taken on more than we really can afford or sustain.”
Volker concluded: “Part of our self-identification—despite the arguments over immigration law reform—is that we are a nation of immigrants. Everyone is attracted to the idea of equal opportunity, which is really embedded in the country here. That makes us fundamentally different from all these European countries.”